Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites

20151015_161549(Customer service announcement – I’m still not a food blogger. Anyway.)

Guys, I invented A THING. At least I think I invented a thing. I’m not sure, I haven’t googled this… so we’ll go with I invented a thing.

I LOVE this time of year. AUTUMN IS THE BESSST. (Side note: It’s sad that fall only gets two months in Michigan. It’s perfect here in fall and anything beats the endless misery of winter.)

Part of my quintessential autumn activities is going to the cider mill. I don’t know if this is a thing for all regions, but in the Midwest, you drive out of town for about an hour, heading for your favorite mill (you WILL have a family favorite). Once you have arrived, you will stretch your legs and saunter into a long line of folks waiting for the same thing you are…

Cold apple cider and hot donuts.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Breakups and a half gallon of ice cream. THE TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER.

sackofdonutsToday was the day I made my pilgrimage. I ended up with a sack of donuts and a half gallon of cider. I couldn’t help but sneak a fresh donut in my car. The donuts are usually of the cake variety and cinnamony and/or sugary in some way. Some places toss the hot donuts in cinnamon sugar. Some places offer many choices of different powered options. Today I ventured to a place that had the cinnamon in the batter, which blew my mind. I fully expected to have fingertips covered in sugar. But this was better.

This was better because I had plans.

I wanted to do something with these donuts. Something exciting.

Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

The idea is that maybe you’ll have people over for tea or a party or something and you want to mix it up with a new appetizer. We’ve all had it with candy corn and marshmallows decorated like mummies. This? This will be a hit. And you can’t get more fall than apples and cider mill donuts.

grilledcheesedonuts

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites

Ingredients –

  • One small/medium apple
  • A dozen cider mill cake donuts (cooled)
  • Cheddar cheese (I like sharp)

Equipment –

  • An apple corer/peeler certainly makes life easier
  • As does some kind of sandwich grilling device

Make the thing:

  1. Slice up your apple. You don’t want the slices too thick, about ⅛” is perfect.
  2. Cut up your cheddar into slices. I suppose you could go with shredded, but it might be a little messier.
  3. Cut your donuts in half. Usually a bread knife does a good job of not smooshing the donuts.
  4. Arrange the slices of apple and cheese inside your donut.
  5. Use your pan or sandwich press and cook those guys up! You don’t need to lubricate your pan, probably, because the donuts were fried in oil. That oil is in them, so it’ll be your lubrication for your cooking surface as the donuts heat up.
  6. Eat the thing!

As of this moment I am very full of donuts and apples and cheese. And I am happy, friends. I am happy.

Advertisements

An open letter to cookbook author Jessica Seinfeld

Dear Jessica Seinfeld,

I want you to know that I just gave away my copy of your book, “Double Delicious! Good, Simple Food For Busy, Complicated Lives!” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely book! The photos are great and everything looks and sounds delicious and I AM both busy and complicated. But we’ve got to talk about the whole ‘adding pureed vegetables into every meal’ thing.

I got the book at a book sale for a dollar. A DOLLAR! For a nicely made spiral bound cookbook with ultra healthy recipes! I thought to myself: YES! EVERYTHING WILL BE DIFFERENT NOW. I will have no loss in taste or flavor and just be able to sneak in some cauliflower puree. Or sneak in some spinach. We’ll be eating all kinds of veggies! I will be a veggie puree ninja. No one will suspect a thing.

But then it sat. And sat. And sat. For a year. I don’t have many cookbooks, but at this point I’ve used every other cookbook I own except yours, including “Tastes and Tales from Texas”. I suspect the prior owner of this book went through the same steps I have gone through while I owned your book:

  1. Denial: Yeah, I’m absolutely going to start making vegetable purees for cooking!
  2. Anger: There are two pages of equipment and three pages of instructions! That’s ALL busy and complicated!!
  3. Bargaining: I’ll pick up some cauliflower and give it a shot… and we’ll have a cupcake to celebrate!
  4. Depression: Cauliflower went bad. Cupcake’s eaten. I have to be up early for that thing. Ugh~
  5. Acceptance: I am never going to do this and should probably get rid of this book.

I’m sorry. It’s just that most of us with busy, complicated lives can’t invest in a puree system, take the time to do it, and then go about freezing them. Your entry level bar is too high. In the time it took me to read about it, whoops, I already ordered pizza and it is delicious. I can’t do it. Sorry.

I was looking forward to this inspiring other ways I could do good, simple things for my busy, complicated life. Like hot yoga while waiting at the DMV. Knitting a scarf that I am also casually wearing. Doing a fasting cleanse because I literally can’t get a lunch in.

So again, sorry about this. You know that old saying, “It’s not you, I’m just very tired and I want to go to bed, please.”

Let’s talk about soup, baby.

The world, as we know it, has plunged into a frozen wasteland. Here: I have created a handy weather report graphic for you.

thisfrozenearth

Nothing can save us now from this arctic hellscape – except the warm, loving arms of soup. Yes, soup. Soup is: a. warm or even hot b. comforting c. easy to make a lot of so you only really need to make the effort once and get like five meals out of the deal as you huddle and wait for the sweet release of becoming a human popsicle.

It was just new years, right? You might have had a resolution or two? Cool, cool. Was one of them learning how to cook? I have NEWS, friend. Soups are a GREAT way to learn how to cook. It’s what I started out doing. I’m a strong advocate for soups for newbie cooks. You get to try out a couple different things, see what spices and herbs can do, and build up your skills. The first year my husband and I were living together we probably ate soup a good third of the time.

This was my first soup.

soup101

That’s it. You make the can of cream of chicken soup according to the directions, then dump in the veggies. Not the whole bag, maybe half. Once the veggies have thawed, you have soup. But then you can build on that. Maybe next time you want something starchy. So you make biscuits from a can. Make this soup. Put a baked biscuit on top. You just made pot pie soup.

But it can go on from there. Next time, maybe you add some onions. Dice them up, cook them in some butter or oil in the bottom of your pot until they’re soft. Then add the can of soup and veggies. Then experiment. Do I like thyme? Thyme goes really well with chicken. You might like to add a little to this soup. Maybe you have fresh veggies. Maybe you want to learn how to skip the can and make your own cream of soup from scratch.

This is such an easy way to get started. And cheap! If you screw it up you have three options.

  1. Eat it anyway. This option requires salt, probably.
  2. Throw it away. You’re out your time and maybe two bucks.
  3. This is probably my favorite option: add shredded cheese.

Cheese can save just about any soup. Just this Monday I made this Carrot, Potato, and Leek soup. I’ll tell you what: it was a damn bore. Pretty bland. Last night, in an attempt to save it (being as I had made like a half gallon of the stuff), I shredded cheddar cheese over it. Not a ridiculous amount. But enough that the soup was now kind of like a loaded baked potato situation and pretty tasty. SOUP = SAVED.

You can also freeze soup! So when you’re feeling lazy, instead of pizza again, you can just pull out a container of soup. I invested in a bunch of those Ziplock containers with the twisty top. Great for emergency soup supply. Also, fun fact, YOU CAN FREEZE CHEESE. Not all cheeses, but your basic shredded cheddar and the like? Yup. Cheese is magical.

There are all kinds of soups that are not hard to make that you can try out. Here’s a few of my favorites. I just looked and I have like 120+ recipes bookmarked. I might have a soup problem.

  • Tomato Soup from i am baker – My hands down go to tomato soup. It is easy, fast, and it tastes better than tomato soup from a can. It is not quite as easy as the two step soup above, but it’s not that complicated.
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup from Nutritious Eats – This is a similar ‘throw things in pot – wait – SOUP!’ I recommend using the Rotel with chiles because I feel like this mexican style soup needs a little heat. I’m not saying this soup has literally cured me of a bad cold, but it seemed to get a lot better once I started eating it.
  • Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Soup from Handful of Raspberries – Here’s a creamy soup that is comforting. Instead of celery I tend to dice up the stalks from the broccoli. That’s a nice thing about soup – if you don’t like something, you can just substitute it.
  • Italian Wedding Soup from Giada De Laurentiis – This is only complicated because there is an odd ingredient (curly endive, which if you can’t find it at Meijer or Walmart, just use spinach) and meatballs you make by hand, but it will be WELL worth the effort.
  • French Onion Soup from Sweet Potato Chronicles – A lot of recipes for french onion soup get really complicated. This one isn’t. The only suggestion I might have is backing off on the balsamic vinegar, especially if you haven’t cooked with it before. Cooking isn’t like baking. Things don’t have to be measured exactly like your recipe says for it to work.

Now some of these recipes have some advanced skills in them, but fret not! It’s just like learning anything else. You build on what you know with new skills. And all of these can be modified with more cheese. You got this. Feel free to comment if you want help getting your soup on. We are here for you. (The ‘we’ in this case is me and soup.) (Ooo. If I ever make that Learn to Cook with Soup book, maybe that’s the name.) (No, maybe ‘Soup to what’s?’ Ugh that doesn’t even make sense.)

Shall I compare thee to a pound cake?

Okay, guys, it’s time for our favorite brand new segment (yes it’s new AND a favorite!):

I am not a food blogger.

That’s right, I am NOT a food blogger! I enjoy food and like to cook and bake on occasion, but lets face it. My stuff is not going to come out looking like a spread in some magazine. I take the pictures in my underlit 1950s home with my cell phone camera. It is what it is.

But since I enjoy food, I’ll talk about it here. I just ask you to remember I’m not a food blogger. Okay, enough preamble.

Thanksgiving was a great success, but like anyone, I’m dealing with the aftermath of leftovers. In years past I’ve gotten creative and made turkey nachos, turkey pot pies, turkey sandwiches… the meat is always the easy part.

But this year I had leftover cranberry orange sauce (see the last post). And in my desperate attempt to figure out what to do with it, I stumbled across this cranberry orange cake. If you follow the link, it is GORGEOUS. Roxana makes the cake from scratch and there is some Martha Stewart realness happening. I just bought a box of pound cake mix and tried to replicate the cake best I could. For I am not Martha Stewart – I am but a humble lady who likes cake.

Cake: Step One

My cranberry sauce is similar to her filling, so I just cut the finished pound cake in half and spread that in the middle. Then I sliced up some oranges and mixed a half cup of powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of orange juice to make a glaze. Ta daaa.

The finished cake.

It’s not movie star cake. But it IS delicious. I feel like this cake is a lot like me. For what it may lack in refinement – who cares. It’s still cake! A great vehicle to use up leftover cranberry sauce and you’d never know it was leftovers. I give this cake about three days in this house. Bon Appé-eat!

I’m not ready for this cranberry jelly.

cranberry

At Thanksgiving we never ate Ocean Spray cranberry “sauce” from a can.

A good half of you, by my entirely unscientific polling, are gasping dramatically and clutching your pearls right now. Calm down. I lived a deprived childhood! I didn’t see the Back To the Future films until I was in my late 20s. We didn’t grow up with extended family, so I didn’t have a weird aunt until I got married. I didn’t even know Canada existed until I moved to Texas. Everyone thought that’s where my accent was from. Like I said – totally deprived.

This tradition was something I was unaware of. I knew of the evil of jello and it’s ilk. Straddling the line of solid and liquid, never having to decide on one or the other. I’d like to speak to those forms directly now: MAKE UP YOUR MIND. EVEN THE ROTTING PUMPKINS ON MY FRONT PORCH HAVE TO DECIDE EVENTUALLY. DO IT.

(Maybe I shouldn’t evoke images of decomposing organic material while trying to talk food the day after gluttony’s holiday, but I am a rebel.)

For those who may be unaware as I was, this holiday tradition marries the overindulgence of the proteins and carbohydrates at the Thanksgiving feast with the bitter, angry ire of cranberries served the only way that science was able to make them palatable for the masses: as a gelatinous tube.

Behold.

thesauce

That’s it. A time honored tradition for many, this solid-ish “sauce” is served just like that. Not mixed into anything. Not melted down. A freestanding monument to corn syrup, can to plate. It is generally served in slices. When asked if you mash it, I was met with shrieking. It is pictured in a friend’s sauce server from the 1950s, passed down to him because of his devotion to this strange side dish/condiment/thing.

Having grown up without this tradition, I’ve never eaten it before. So for the sake of science, journalism, and all that is holy, I tried some.

And it was… terrible. It’s just a nondescript tart mass that is really only defined by it’s texture: jelly, but grainy. After a single bite I declared the experiment over and my husband happily gobbled up the remains.

The moral of this culinary adventure? Traditions are weird. I’m going to stick to the homemade cranberry sauce from the vulgar-yet-delightful Thug Kitchen. It looks like cranberries and tastes like them too, no wiggle required. Keep that in mind for next year.

I have a complicated relationship with food.

classy eating

I love food. The photo above is me at a chinese buffet in 2005. You see, my friends would play a game where everyone would put their finished plates in front of me so when the waitstaff went to clear the table, it’d look like I was the girl who tore through seven plates of food. HA HA HA ohhh, friends are fun.

But yes. I love food. It sometimes does not love me back. This has been the case as I’ve stumbled into discovering my various food allergies.

Almonds were the first. I’d ordered almond chicken at a chinese restaurant. It was moderately tasty but I soon felt dizzy and sleepy. The sleepy I chocked up to eating a heavy meal, and the dizzy I was sure had resulted from the springy seat I was in at the restaurant. It wasn’t until I ate the leftovers the next day and it happened again that my now-husband became suspicious.

“Do you have any allergies?”

“What? To like… food? That would be TERRIBLE.”

“Yeah. I mean, it’s the only thing that I can think of.”

“No! Well, I mean, coconut makes me sick and my mouth itchy.”

“Uh huh.”

“I’m lactose intolerant.”

“UH HUH.”

“But yeah, no allergies!”

He can always figure out who the murderer is in movies before me, too. Sees the twist miles away. Clever duck.

This pattern would slowly come up time and time again as I encountered foods that bothered me. Once we made the adult decision to buy a 5 pound bag of pistachios at Costco and proceeded to eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were DELICIOUS. On about day three, I noticed I seemed to be itchy. And covered in splotches.

“Nick, babe?”

“Yeah?”

(While shelling and eating pistachios.) “Have we changed laundry detergents lately?”

(Also eating pistachios.) “No. Why?”

“My skin is all itchy and unhappy. Maybe a mosquito got in? Are you bit?”

“Nope. That’s weird.”

“Huh. …god, these are delicious.”

“I KNOW RIGHT?”

A few hours later he whipped around in his computer chair and exclaimed, “THE PISTACHIOS!”

I recognize I am lucky in many ways. These allergies are not severe. Just enough to be inconvenient. I still have foods I can eat. But it’s still always a fun surprise to find out I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t have.

Working at the candy store, I was building a candy cake with the tasty taffy Bit-O-Honey. I might have been implementing the “two for you, one for me” method as I built the cake, sampling those whose wrappers were slightly marred in someway. I’d never had a Bit-O-Honey before, but they are delicious. The taffy is very simple: honey, almonds, coconut oil, and a few other random ingredients. YES. I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT’S COMING. I was unaware at the time. It’s called Bit-O-HONEY, not Bit-O-Honey-and-Dash-of-Nut-Products. I genuinely just thought it was just honey taffy. Until my friend and coworker Rachel came up to me.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“Making a cake- say, have you HAD Bit-O-Honey? These are DELICIOUS!”

The rest of the conversation you know at this point. A baby shower I visited had a similar result when I thought I was eating a salad with sunflower seeds. I overheard two coworkers talking about it.

CW1: “This salad is delicious, what is in it?”

CW2: “Oh… [blah blah blah] almonds-”

Me: “I HAVE TO GO NOW.”

It’s weird, because Benadryl, if you’ve ever taken it, just makes you kind of dizzy and sleepy, so I’m often right back where I started. But at least I get a nap out of the deal. I haven’t found anymore food allergies. I just play things pretty safe. I just find it so funny that I’m juuust allergic enough to where it’s annoying. They say your allergies shift every seven years. Maybe I’ll give these nuts another shot? Or maybe not. I suppose I do still have peanuts and peanut butter. FUN FACT: the peanut is actually a legume (bean) and I am not allergic to it! …Except I have to limit my protein intake now because of kidney stones, which is a WHOLE other thing.

My recommendation, dear reader? Don’t turn 30. The whole thing is a sham.

First foot problems.

I’m having surgery on my foot Friday. To say that I’m nervous is probably an understatement, but I’m doing my best to be prepared. I’m loading up on purple Gatorade and hydrogen peroxide. I’m also freezing some meals for myself to eat during the non-standing times. My husband also gets home late from work, so this’ll serve as double duty for dinner, I’m sure.

I’m making three things. The first is this tomato soup. It’s delicious and simple and just tastes of comfort.

The second thing is a King Ranch Chicken Casserole. Normally I try to avoid casseroles because they lack a certain elegance, but for a pre-cooked meal plan I think this is a capital idea. Also, if you’re not reading Homesick Texan, you should be. Great blog, delicious Texas food.

The third thing is a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. Again, casseroles are in right now!

The other thing we’ve tried to do is eliminate dust in our apartment. I have a pretty severe dust mite allergy so being in my apartment for three weeks will be difficult. We’ve done what we can and hopefully I won’t be a Hot Mess ™.

I swear I won’t just talk about food on this blog.